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Kindel urges selling Amherst's Audubon Golf Course

Instead of spending $4 million to fix up the Audubon Golf Course, Amherst should consider selling the facility and using the proceeds to build or improve a course located elsewhere, a town lawmaker said Monday.

Council Member William L. Kindel, who made the proposal during a board working session, says the 18-hole town-owned course on Maple Road is too valuable to remain as is.

And while he has been mulling the sale proposal for months, Kindel is not expecting other town lawmakers to warm to his idea immediately. There was little reaction from others during Kindel's presentation.

"I'm giving you the least optimistic proposal. It could be terrific," he said. But Kindel added: "This is the kind of initiative that requires imagination."

Audubon, which he describes as "antiquated," has no automated watering system and needs drainage work as well as a major rebuilding of nearly one-third of its holes. Estimates are the work will require a $4 million bond issue and could leave the course with four or five of its greens out of commission for months.

"Rather than spend more money on it, we could use the money and build a better golf course somewhere else," Kindel said.

According to figures he obtained from the town assessor, Kindel told lawmakers the 64-acre golf course could be sold for at least $3.6 million in its present state. Three recent sales of golf courses attracted sale prices of between $5.7 million and $13 million, he said.

And once developed as commercial property, the land alone would generate $63,000 in taxes for the town and as much as $234,000 in total town, school and county taxes, which is an important part of his proposal, according to Kindel.

"If we put it up for sale, it would be gone in a heartbeat," he said.

As one option for replacing Audubon, Kindel said, the sale funds and the bond issue could be combined to improve the Oakwood Golf Course on Tonawanda Creek Road near the Amherst Museum. Or, the town could use the money to buy or build another course elsewhere in Amherst.

In other action, Town Board members were told it could cost up to $7 million over the next three years to replace the sand filtration system at Amherst's Sewer Plant 16. The present filtration system is 26 years old and must be replaced or the town could face possible action by federal environmental officials, according to treatment plant operator Wendy S. Tabor.

e-mail: tdolan@buffnews.com

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